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Press release content from PR Newswire. The AP news staff was not involved in its creation.
PRESS RELEASE: Paid content from PR Newswire
Press release content from PR Newswire. The AP news staff was not involved in its creation.

World leader in preventing, recovering from war turns attention to the United States

October 5, 2021 GMT

WASHINGTON, Oct. 5, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Search for Common Ground (Search), the world’s largest dedicated peacebuilding organization, is launching Common Ground USA (CG USA).

Leveraging 40 years of experience on the frontlines of violent conflict, this new initiative is designed to halt the country’s slide toward political violence, take on the roots of conflicts that divide Americans and accelerate national healing. Join the journey at commongroundusanow.org

“Our nation is more divided than at any time since the Civil War. People are anxious that things will only get worse and some doubt whether we can ever come together. And yet, millions are also calling for common ground. Our new initiative — Common Ground USA — is designed to answer this urgent call,” said Shamil Idriss, CEO of Search for Common Ground.

“If we act now, we can reverse our slide toward political violence. And if we sustain our commitment, we can address the roots of our division and reach a better place, together, that assures the rights, dignity and well-being of all Americans”.

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A 2018 Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Search for Common Ground is famous for its Common Ground Approach. This is a process that works with partners at the levels of local communities and national policy to drive change in three steps: humanize divided people through their shared interests and pursuits; mobilize people around shared concerns and aspirations; and systematize cooperation through changed institutions and cultural norms. This process, based on the principle Understand the differences; Act on the commonalities, has proven successful in some of the world’s most divisive conflicts, from Nigeria to Rwanda, Macedonia to Sri Lanka and beyond.

Common Ground USA is built on three interconnected pillars: Preventing Political Violence, Mobilizing Youth Activism, and Fostering a Healthier Media Ecosystem. All three are designed to support Americans to tackle societal problems through a common ground lens, and all three are being advanced in collaboration with local and national partners.

Preventing Political Violence

Over two decades, Search has worked with communities and governments to confront the challenge of violent extremism in 15 countries. In West Africa, Search is the lead partner of eight governments and UN agencies — as well as countless local community organizations and media outlets — in addressing the violent extremism that has ravaged local communities and destabilized entire countries. Through this work, Search has developed an approach that mobilizes communities to address the root causes of radicalization to extremism so as to prevent violence, rather than simply to police it once it has already led to tragedy. Working with partners, CG USA will support and equip communities across the U.S. to adapt and apply this community-centered, preventative approach.

Mobilizing Youth Activism

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From Liberia to Myanmar, Search has spawned a vast network of youth-led peacebuilding initiatives that use digital tools and grassroots activism to prevent violent conflict and drive lasting change through collaborative activism that makes allies of adversaries. Partnering with diverse youth-led and youth-serving organizations, Common Ground USA will support American youth and young adults to harness their collective power to drive change. The first step in this direction is First Year Connect, a new approach to orient college students that builds their skills to engage across racial, political, and other dividing lines, laying the foundations for healthy campus communities and greater collective action. Search piloted First Year Connect in 2020-2021. The program continues this academic year.

Fostering a Healthier Media Ecosystem

Search is a pioneer in social impact entertainment, producing media that reach an average of 40 million people a year in many of the most divided countries. When Burundi stood on the brink of ethnic violence following the genocide in neighboring Rwanda in the 1990s, Search for Common Ground created Studio Ijambo, an independent radio studio staffed by both Hutus and Tutsis—which former Secretary of State John Kerry later credited for helping avert mass violence. CG USA will foster a healthy media ecosystem by tackling issues as diverse as hate speech, media sensationalism, and the lack of content that promotes collaboration.

Reflecting on the possibilities of the new initiative and its urgency, Idriss noted that “healing a nation moves at the speed of trust. Common Ground USA is designed to build that trust, so that Americans can imagine — and create, together — a better future for us all.”

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SOURCE Search For Common Ground